Archive for March, 2008

My weekend

31 March, 2008

On Friday, I stared out the window, watching the dark, foreboding clouds rolling in. It was 3 in the afternoon and I had the whole weekend in front of me. Not sure what I how I was going to spend 48 hours bliss, I fired off an email to two volunteers in Stara Zagora asking them if they wanted to go to dinner sometime over the weekend. To my delight, I discovered that another PCV, whose birthday was on Friday, would be travelling to Stara for dinner with two other PCVs. As soon as I got out of work, I hopped aboard a train and met up with the birthday girl and our friend. The trip was mostly spent on a troublesome mole eating onions in a vegetable patch and how difficult students can be, especially when they know we have a limited grasp on the language.

The train pulled into the station and we headed to the restaurant where we met one of the PCVs. In total, there were six of us. It was a good meal and we discussed the usual; life and troubles in Bulgaria and politics back home in the US. Fulled with Italian goodness, we contemplated our options. We landed on heading to the local bowling alley. It was by far the nicest alley I’ve ever been to. It looked like trendy night club in LA. We had some more beers, a shot of absinthe and hit the lanes. We were about half way through the game when I turned around and looked into the bar. This bowling alley bar had go go dancers. When are you every going to be able to say that? I went to a bar with go go dancers. Wow. It was a lot of fun bowling again and a little surreal doing that in the Peace Corps. But good nonetheless.

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Your Photo of the day

25 March, 2008

Burrito Night!

25 March, 2008

I’m going to take a wild stab at it in бърито вечер. That’s probably grossly wrong but my dictionary doesn’t have “Burrito” in it (it does, however, translate “Irish” to “green n*ggers” so, yea, not a very dependable dictionary).

Any who, it was a spectacular evening! I haven’t had such a flavorful mean in a long time. Thanks to my grandparents to making it possible. When my brother and uncle came, they also brought taco seasoning (in the garden of Eden, I’m convinced it snowed this) and large flour tortillas. The day started out early when I caught the train to Plovdiv to meet Cindy and go shopping a the supermarket. We bought some avocados and cilantro. As we found out later, avocados in Bulgaria don’t tend to be ripe in the market.

We tried several methods, but none of them resulted in guacamole.

MMM! Nothing like “кайма” (literally ground meat. I think it’s combination of pork and beef. Emphasis on “pork”) mixed with sauteed onions in taco seasoning! That’s rice cooking on the right.

The burrito, in all of its glory. We didn’t have sour cream, so we used regular yogurt instead. It wasn’t that bad.

My lovely girlfriend refusing to take a nice photo for my grandma.
(Note the bottle of Cholula made an appearance. Thanks Buns and Phil!)

All in all, it was a very successful meal. Thanks again, Grandma and Grandpa! It’s safe to say that Burrito Night! will reoccur.

Smörgåsbord

21 March, 2008

On Wednesday I went to the school to teach the computer class. I was waiting in the teacher’s lounge when one of kindergarten teachers came in with a huge roll of bread and a jar of honey. She eagerly announced that her grandson had just learned to walk. The honey was poured into a bowl and we all took a piece of the bread, dipped it in the honey and then…ran out of the room. Bizarre, I know, but the whole ritual is highly symbolic. The honey represents a sweet life and the running out of the room is to wish he will grow up big and strong. I had initially heard of this tradition when a child is born, that people will walk down the street giving pieces of bread to people who then turn and run away so he may grow up strong and one day join the army. Though I was pleased to see that this grandmother was concerned about her newly mobile grandson growing strong. I’ll bet he doesn’t have to eat his veggies now. (more…)

My Bulgarian Barometer

18 March, 2008

From time to time I get a gauge to see how far my Bulgarian has progressed. This also just happens to be the exact same time I get my haircut, which works out well. I’ve been going to the same place to get a new ‘do since I moved to Chirpan. The first time I went there, I needed the help of a colleague to help set up an appointment and tell the hairdresser how I wanted it cut. The second time I went there unassisted, but mumbled foolishly and pointed to her date book when I wanted to set it up. The previous time things went more smoothly and I chatted with her about my upcoming projects. “Malko po malko” (little by little) as they say here. Yesterday, I swung by her place and causally asked if she had any free time to make an appointment for me tomorrow. It was after I left that I realized how that conversation have been impossible months ago. It also put in perspective how far I’ve come in eight meager months (eight months already!?). She remembered that my brother and uncle had visited last week. As she cut my hair, I recounted my exploits with them; all the cities we visited, people we met and things we did. We also talked about the weather, the problems facing the country and my wanting to buy a tv to help me improve my language. She’s a wonderful lady who does a fantastic job. I am pleased to hear that every time I get my haircut, she tells me that my Bulgarian is improving. Month by month, I’m making strides with this terrifically difficult language.

Na Gosti from My Family!

17 March, 2008

This past week my uncle and brother came to visit me on my brother’s spring break. We had a great time and did an immense amount of travelling (my apologizes for not posting anything about my vacation; I received a few emails from people wondering what had happened. Sorry.)

On Saturday (8/03) I headed out to the Dupe, where PCV Barb lives. I arrived before noon and early enough to help her and some girl students she befriended hand out “Women’s Day” cards to female passer byers in the city center. Responses were generally grateful but I did get a few “why are you giving this to me”, “how much does this cost” and one old dude cursing me out in Bulgarian (I think. Sometimes the lack of teeth hurts the enunciation). After we handed all the cards out, some of the girls, Barb and I headed to a cafe where we chatted about topics from Women’s Day (the day after you burn tires and forgive people. I was a bit skeptical, but low and behold, on Sunday, people were burning tires) to life in America. The girls were about 17 and spoke English very well. They were well aware of the problems facing Bulgaria though a bit tepid on how to solve them.

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Opa!

14 March, 2008

In the excitement of my family coming to visit, I forgot to post a “I’m on vacation” entry. I’ll be posting again on Sunday or Monday. Sorry!

Women’s Day

8 March, 2008

Tomorrow is the Bulgarian equivalent of Mother’s Day. The only difference is every women celebrates it, regardless if they have children or not. I’m a little hazy on the details of what you’re supposed to do on this day. From my observations today, men give their female co-workers flowers. I followed suit and all the ladies in my office greatly appreciated. I think they were also a little surprised I was aware of the holiday. I also gave a Carnation to my baba. She was so grateful (and surprised) with the flower. She gave me a banana in return. I tried to turn it down, telling her it was my pleasure to give her one but she would have none of it. I went out to lunch with my site mate (also know as “The World’s Best Site Mate” and “The Irreplaceable Site Mate”)  and gave her a Carnation as well.

This evening, the Municipality threw a party to celebrate all the female workers. They were all given flowers in appreciation. We ate traditional Bulgarian food, drank and danced the night away. Still unable to compete with Bulgarian party-goers, I left a little before midnight. I don’t know how they do it!

As far as I know, this all there is to Women’s Day. Either way, it’s nice to recognize all the women I work and socialize with. However, I’m glad this didn’t fall on a night I had dance practice as it would have been an expensive holiday!

Group Blog!

7 March, 2008

Several B-22 who keep up-to-date with their blogs and I have started a group blog. Each of us will write about a subject once a week. You can find it here: B-22 Blogstars. You’ll be able to get a more expansive overview of culture in Bulgaria as well as mindless drabble from B-22s. Either way, it should be an interesting read.

An intense weekend

4 March, 2008

I’m not sure I’ll be able to convey everything I did this weekend but I’ll do my best.On Saturday morning, we headed out to the Rhodopi bus station in Plovdiv to catch our bus to Smolyan. Smolyan is very close to the Greek border, the capital of its providence and a 2.5 hour bus ride away. The drive was incredibly beautiful, winding through the valleys. After we made it to Smolyan, we bumped into another PCV who would be travelling with us (we are convinced the PC injected a homing beacon during one of our vaccines as we are able to find our PCV friends in cities with uncanny speed and ease). We went grocery shopping for dinner since Stoykite (the village we would be spending the weekend) didn’t have a market where we could get anything really substantial. We caught a minibus to the village. It was packed and travelled at roughly 10 mph (a liberal estimate).

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